By day Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) works a menial administrative job. Her mother is over bearing, wanting her to move back home until she finds a man and has children, and constantly questions her about promotions. At work, her colleagues are all younger than her with perfect figures and bright carers ahead of them, and her former school mates are living the life her mother dreams for her. But by night Kumiko obsessively studies an old scratched video cassette of Fargo, wanting to pinpoint the exact place where Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) buried the briefcase of money. One day, after having enough of her oppressive life, Kumiko goes on an all or nothing trip to Minnesota to hunt for her treasure.
The links with Fargo are plentiful. From the amped up personalities of the characters to the bleak white of the Minnesota snow. The other worldly Minnesota gives the second half of the film a dream like quality in comparison to the stifling, tinted Japan. The cinematography alone tells the story, shifting from Kuniko’s dingy home life to the expanse of the wilderness until she becomes a lone ghoul searching the forest until her final, blisteringly white triumph. The interplay with Fargo, a film where the intersection of dreams has fatal results, is appropriately at the heart of Kumiko’s obsession and quest. The treasure, the fictional prize that for Kumiko must, at all cost, be real and found, becomes an object worth risking everything for, and in the end, it is only by sacrificing her all that the dream has any chance of coming true.
Disparaging and beautiful, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter reveals the treasure of dreams and the dangers of following them.